Of Prisons and Prosecutors
Pedro Nava, the Santa Barbara assemblymember running for state attorney general, voted on Monday against a bill to cut the state’s prison budget, which ultimately passed. The Assembly vote was considerably less dramatic than a similar measure passed by the State Senate two weeks ago. The Senate bill would create a new commission to re-examine the state’s sentencing guidelines with a keen eye on reducing the state’s inmate population. A panel of federal judges have ruled the state prison system is dangerously and unconstitutionally overcrowded and have ordered the release of 40,000 inmates. California authorities are resisting what they’ve termed a federal usurpation of state authority. But this summer the governor and the Legislature tentatively agreed to cut $1.2 billion from the state prison budget during the next two years. Law enforcement lobby groups charged dangerous felons-as many as 27,000-would be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Nava and other Democratic asssemblymembers running for Attorney General have opposed all of the proposed cuts. During the past two weeks, Nava has not returned calls for comment on this matter.